How a Text Marketer can Learn Valuable Lessons from Long-Form Copywriters
In terms of storytelling, SMS text messaging is probably as far removed from long-form, direct-action copywriting as you could be. The latter requires a highly skilled ability to transport the reader into a world of the writer’s choosing, in order to get them to take a valuable action. The former requires an infinitely simpler approach, but once again with the objective of triggering an instant action. The copywriter may spend years perfecting his or her art and frequently work with no real limit as far as the length of copy is concerned. However, the SMS marketing writer can still learn a lot of lessons here with regard to overall approach, content and composition.
When The Pressure Is On
A very successful text message doesn’t just need a swift punch in between the eyes in order to facilitate action. There is so much noise in the marketplace today that sometimes even the most outrageous offer or discount can be ignored. A truly outstanding message will use the right words, in the right sequence to get people into a motivated frame of mind. You may only have 160 characters (or 456 if you’re using fastsms), but you’ve got to use them more wisely than ever.
The Most Important Element
Any successful, long-form copywriter will tell you that writing ability is only a part of the picture. Certainly, many of these copywriters have spent years developing content and writing across a broad range of subjects. Many of them have journalistic experience, as well. Yet these same, experienced wordsmiths will tell you that research is at the heart of the matter. Copywriters can take days or even weeks to research the marketplace, the competition, the offer and buying habits, before even putting pen to paper.
The same approach needs to be taken by the text marketer. They need to go beyond the “I know my customer” stance. They need to gather as much information about the prospect as possible through market research and proper analytics so that they know the desires and wants of the customers on an intimate basis. They’ve got to know how behaviour patterns are likely to affect a buying decision, especially an impulse one, and their message can then be tailored very specifically to targeted audiences.
Every Word Versus Every Letter
While the long-form copywriter will tell you that every single word of the copy has its own importance, this philosophy has to be magnified considerably when it comes to those short text messages, especially with business SMS. The message has to be able to grab attention but do so in such a way that it speaks directly, clearly and without controversy to the reader. This calls for a good degree of creativity, but it also has to be tempered with realism and once again, a knowledge of the target consumer. It could be that humour is the best way to grab attention, but this could be counter-productive as well.
What Did You Say?!
One of the biggest problems with the written word is its two-dimensional nature. The English language is also, very definitely, full of nuances. Consequently, it’s difficult to convey a particular tone in a text message. It’s also difficult to determine whether someone is being humorous or sarcastic. This can be especially problematic when it comes to the traditional “British” style of humour, which can be very dry and frequently go right over the head of other nationalities.
You cannot always assume that the reader is going to receive your communication as if it is positive, or at the worst neutral.
It also may be tempting to use as much shorthand as possible, in order to convey more of a message in less space. Once again, it’s important to know your particular market. If you’re trying to reach a specific subsection that may be highly educated or more mature, then any attempt at shorthand could be detrimental to the objective. If this particular market segment is somewhat critical of technology, or the “younger” approach to communication, then they may view your organisation as being run by a tech-savvy teenager instead.
It’s best to only abbreviate words that are very obvious and that may already be abbreviated quite commonly in other, real-world situations. For example, “messages” could be abbreviated to “msgs” without the likelihood of confusion. Under most circumstances, you will want to avoid something like “ur” in place of “you are” to that type of market.
The aforementioned long-form copywriter may use 5,000 words in order to develop a position, but they always have one – and only one – objective in mind. It may appear to be obvious, but many text marketers are still trying to fit far too much into that one message. It doesn’t matter how many widgets you may have to sell, you have to focus just on one objective per message.
Don't Rinse and Repeat
You may be tempted to agree to the last point on the basis that marketing messages can be sent instantaneously and often. This is one way to kill conversions across the entire business, however, as this approach could be viewed as being highly intrusive.
Calls To Action That Aren't
You’ve got to have a strong call to action, though, come what may. Some marketers make the mistake of simply including a short URL by itself, without any text in order to tell readers exactly what to do. Some action words have to be linked to the CTA, even if you might think they are taking up valuable real estate on the screen.
In the broader marketing world, it’s crucial for an organisation to maintain its brand. The brand is, in turn, composed of a number of different elements including visual imagery, colour schemes, slogans and phraseology. Before any campaign is signed off it’s important to develop a mini, SMS-centric branding position, that can be used across all campaigns in the future. This may include the choice of specific words to be used in place of others that have a similar meaning. It will also include a selection of words that convey the right amount of professionalism and the same overall effect as though the reader were looking at the organisation’s home page.
Given the right amount of preparation, research and understanding of the marketplace, an SMS text campaign writer can certainly achieve the same goals as their more verbose copywriter cousins.
If you aren’t seeing a positive response from your SMS marketing then your list may be thinking of it as spam and just ignoring it like they do much of their email. So take your latest marketing messages and examine them again with these four questions in mind.
In a recent post I covered how to create urgency in your SMS marketing messages. It didn't feel right to leave out a few other key components - the U companions. In copywriting circles they are often called the 4-Us. They are: Urgent, Useful, Unique, and Ultra-specific. So to make sure I don't leave anything out, here I'll show you how to use the others in your SMS messaging.
SMS messaging offers some of the highest click through rates in mobile marketing. But did you know it could be even better? See how one retailer improved their click rates by offering their customers different options in their messages. Then see how you can do the same.
You need concise, memorable and high-impact content with a clear call to action in your SMS messaging. That, in a nutshell, is what's needed to achieve with any marketing or engagement communications in any form. But this is never truer than with an SMS campaign when your business text messaging has to rely on a small window of recipient attention.
Just for fun, I asked people in a marketing focused Facebook group to share the worst SMS marketing messages they’ve ever received. I was expecting a deluge of responses, but actually only a few trickled in. But those horrible SMS marketing messages are out there…the comments on my post proved it even if no one wanted to share (I guess they’re all shy).
SMS marketing is still one of the most effective marketing channels available to businesses but is often overlooked in the pursuit of newer, more digitised technologies. When you include SMS marketing as part of the marketing mix, you're in a far greater position to increase engagement with your campaign, helping you generate a greater return on your investment. As with all channels, there are certain ways you can ensure your campaign is more effective, by following these simple steps.
Do you ever wonder if your SMS marketing campaigns could be even more successful? Of course, you do! Find out how to put A/B testing to work in your campaigns by following our five simple steps and see your ROI increase
In terms of storytelling, SMS text messaging is probably as far removed from long-form, direct-action copywriting as you could be. However, the SMS marketing writer can still learn a lot of lessons here with regard to overall approach, content and composition.
Good copywriting is something marketers understand. But it's easy to forget the basic principles when running SMS marketing campaigns. You only have 160 characters after all (or 453 characters if you're using fastsms). While there are many elements to successful copywriting, there's one element that is often either overlooked or over-used. What is it? Urgency.